The Education of a Would Be Speculative Fiction Writer

Phenderson Djèlí Clark

sekhmet daughterSome time ago, in a younger life that seems far, far away, I decided I wanted to write. I was going to write speculative fiction, like the sci-fi and fantasy books I’d spent so much of my younger life reading. I was going to be a PoC writing awesome speculative fiction that no one had seen before, away from the run-of-the mill elves, dwarves and what-not. And the very novelty of my work would gain accolades and applause.

Then I woke up.

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ReMoved – a short film to create awareness about #foster #parenting – Beautiful work with a profound message

Meryland Knows Best


This short movie was shared on Facebook by one of my followers, she tagged me on the post because she thought I would like this.  She was right! I loved it.  Although the movie is short (it lasts about 12 minutes), the message is profound.  You can make a positive impact in a foster child, if you care enough.  Remember these kids come from broken and in most cases abusive homes,  we don’t know their story and the depth of pain in their minds and hearts because we haven’t walked in their shoes, but our actions can redefine their future, that’s for sure!

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By dying young I shall escape great sufferings

Every once in a while real life will play out like fiction. Today, for example, the weather quite perfectly reflects my health: 42°F with a steady rain over an already icy ground. What was once a foot of fluffy snow has been beaten into ice by now.

Working from home is helpful and horrible at the same time. Helpful, because it means I can be productive while laying waste to rolls of toilet papers and bags of cotton balls. (Why not boxes of tissues? Take a lesson from a nosebleed-prone victim, especially since around this time of year my nose goes into manic overdrive – tissues are made from WOOD PULP. TP and cotton balls are made of actual cotton.) And because I don’t like to create more work for my coworkers. It’s horrible because the connection to my workstation lags and I get frustrated, and I’m already tired at just 10:00 AM in the morning.

In my misery I can’t help but feel just a little like Helen Burns; not the part where she’s all calm about dying, but the part where she gets all passive-aggressive and self-pitying because, “I had not qualities or talents to make my way very well in the world: I should have been continually at fault.” Tell it like it is, Helen.

No to NaNoWriMo

I’m re-blogging this because we’re almost halfway through November and I haven’t even started the chapter I wanted to get done this month – not even the whole novel, I had resigned myself to just a chapter. I’ve decided to trade in my Starving Artiste brand for hunkering down at the new job I started this month and cleaning the entire apartment. I’ve sold my creative soul for a salary and a dust free bedroom.

Druid Life

In January, everyone should try and choreograph a ballet. In March we should all write an opera, and in June everyone should paint a fresco. Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? And yet the idea that everyone could write a novel in November gets a good deal more acceptance. Why do we assume that, while these other forms would require skills, knowledge and practice beyond most people’s experience, anyone can write a book? It drives me round the bend.

Getting people to explore their creativity is something I’ve always considered important, but I think that should begin with a respect for whatever form you are working in. To start by assuming the form is easy, requires no study, research or insight, is to set yourself up to fail. I don’t think that benefits anyone. So, here are a few counterarguments.

Fifty thousand words is not really a book; that’s rather short. Seventy…

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Censorship of Self-Published Authors or Something Else?

Shannon A Thompson

Many of you are probably aware of the major rule changes happening in novel companies, but, perhaps, some of you aren’t, so I’m writing about the rule changes in the hopes of both informing authors (especially self-published) and opening a forum where authors and readers can have a healthy debate over the issue.

So what’s happening?

As of a few days ago, companies like Amazon, KOBO, and WHSmith are deleting self-published books that are deemed inappropriate or simply deleting all self-published novels altogether. Here are a few articles:

WHSmith removing all self-published titles: to summarize what’s happening here, WHSmith has received many complaints of titles that are “inappropriate.” According to the summary on their webpage, it started with uncomfortable or taboo erotica, incest, and rape themed novels. Then it moved into all self-published titles shortly afterwards, promising to keep self-published novels once they’ve gone through a screening process…

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9/11 Twelve Years On

I missed writing a post on this miserable anniversary list year, though the one from two years ago regarding everyone talking about how they experienced day through television still resonates.

So along that vein I’m not going to post a picture of a flag, or a black ribbon, or any of the photos from that day. Science tells us memory is intricately linked with the sense of smell, but for me it’s the sense of sound. This is what I kept hearing on the radio after that day, overlaid with the words of NYC witnesses:

Video: Not the Kind of Emergency Kit You Want to Have

Of course my emergency kit would have all the correct items and then emergency books too. Only in that situation would I finally read Moby Dick.

Fairfax County Emergency Information

Here’s a great public service announcement from the American Red Cross about the importance of having an emergency supply kit.


As we head into National Preparedness Month next month (September), be sure to put together an emergency supply for your home, work and car — but don’t put together this kit!

Learn more from the Red Cross, as well as our emergency information Web pages.

We also suggest 30 easy ways you can prepare; take a look at our list and do as many as possible.

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I’ve Got a Fever, a Non-Believer

This past week has been kind of terrible. Monday, the horrific Boston marathon bombings. Tuesday, the six-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre. And, if you’re going by online outrage, equally bad is the comment Justin Bieber wrote in the guest book of Anne Frank House last Friday: “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”

My gut reaction to that statement fell in line with the rest of the internet. What a disrespectful thing to say! What a perfect example of self-absorbed teenage behavior! What an annoying little **** that kid is!

Then I started to reflect on the whole thing. I am by no means a Justin Bieber fan, and I don’t feel that being a Jewish girl gives me some kind of special insight to Anne Frank. But there is something paradoxical about the whole thing, this scandal of a stupid teenage boy versus an intellectual teenage girl. Think of the stereotype of the average teen girl – obsessed with dating, high school status, clothes/makeup/shoes, her favorite bands or singers, despising her oppressive parents and various annoying siblings, occasionally thinking of college and the future, and mostly just wanting to have fun. Dare I say we have put Anne on a pedestal?

Yes, her life in hiding and death merely weeks before liberation were absolutely a tragedy, one that has us still grieving for her almost seventy years later. But I think this image the general public has of her is contrived by people who haven’t even read her diary. The girl was a self-confessed chatterbox! Had Anne and her family survived, maybe immigrated to America, is that much of a stretch to imagine she might have been a fan of, say, Frank Sinatra? Thrilled by a pair of blue eyes instead of a swept-aside haircut? Consider Zlata Filipović, who kept a diary through the Bosnian war (1992-1995) and has been called the Anne Frank of Sarajevo. She’s 32 now, and has a twitter feed. It has less Instagram and more activism than the average feed, but there’s some hidden whimsy: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? (stole this off Facebook, quote by Satchel Paige).” Frankly (pun intended), I think Anne would have loved YouTube, vlogging, and being able to chat with the world.

Justin Bieber’s insensitive comments show more narcissism than sympathy, but the idea he accidentally hit on of wishing Anne Frank had been given the opportunity to be a silly teenage girl is one to keep.